We’ve already provided some pointers in this blog that will help you learn how your child learns. Now it’s time to take the next step and make an actual assessment on the kind of learning style your child has. Before we get started, make sure you’ve already seen part one of this series, because everything we do here builds on that post.
Tips on assessing how your child learns
Children often don’t have the knowledge or ability to tell us which category of learning style they fall into. During your one-on-one time, let your child decide what he or she wants to do. Take careful note of what they choose and what they enjoy. Remember, these may be two different things. Kids may choose something to please their parents, not necessarily because they enjoy it. Pay attention to the activities your child appears to be genuinely fond of.
As a starting point, Parenting.com has a checklist that could be invaluable for figuring out what kind of learner your child is.
The above site recommends looking at what activities your children seem to enjoy the most. Is their favourite board game Operation? Do they like making hands-on crafts? You may have a physical or kinaesthetic learner.
Does your child like Scrabble? Is she good with names? Does she like reading and writing? Chances are she may be a verbal/linguistic learner.
Does your child have a knack for humming melodies and remembering song lyrics? He may be an audio/musical learner.
Do your children respond to diagrams? Are they moved by pictures and photography? Do they daydream? They may be visual learners.
There are also some good online tests which you can have your child take.
Edutopia has what is called a multiple intelligence test that provides a percentage scale of how your child interacts with the world. There is also an explainer that provides details on the kinds of activities your child would find most engaging. This is useful for finding out what interests your kids and their potential hobbies or career paths.
Educationplanner.org has a test that tells you what kind of learning style your kids have. Once they finish it, the site also gives tips on what kinds of activities will help them study and learn.
These are just a few examples. A simple Google search will reveal many more. But be sure to check and see if the site appears to be credible.
If your kids are a little too young to understand the queries, try taking the test together. Reword the questions and ask each child yourself. And remember some of the questions may need adaptation. For example, older questionnaires may ask if your child listens to the radio a lot. Since this is 2015, you might ask your child if he or she downloads a lot of music or listens to podcasts.
How you can help once you figure out the learning style of your child
Once you determine the learning style of your child, it becomes much easier to assist them in their education. Some parents may even be able to inform teachers how to best school their child. And even if that’s not always possible, there are ways you can help your kids learn once they get back to the house.
Kurt Fischer of the Harvard Graduate School of Education says one of the best predictors for a visual learner’s success is the amount of books available at home. When it comes to auditory learners, Fischer says it’s best to keep audiobooks, music around the house. These children will also benefit from engaging conversation with peers and adults. Verbal instructions are also helpful when explaining things. And as for kinesthetic learners, Fischer recommends keeping toys around that help them learn by doing. LEGO is a great example. And don’t be afraid to ask them to re-enact passages of books they’re learning in class. Even getting them to play teacher could be a good idea.
Learning styles are not always set in stone
Children’s learning styles can change over time, so it’s helpful to schedule check-ups to see how your kids are doing. Be flexible and adapt to your child’s needs. If your child is a reader but develops an interest in music, perhaps in the future he or she will learn better by listening rather than reading.
A final word — learning assessments are not substitutes for careful observation
We have heard of a case where a child did not get diagnosed with a learning challenge even though he was tested by the school. The mother of the child saw her son was still struggling, so she started homeschooling her child. It was only then that she discovered her son was dyslexic. If it weren’t for her one-on-one attention with her son, her child could have fallen through the cracks.
The moral of the story? Make sure you spend alone time with your children before assessing them. Zero in on frustrations they have. Remember that checklists and tests are still imperfect tools and are no substitute for carefully observing your child.